Dear friends in Christ,
Today’s daily office readings bring us this gem from Romans 5.
And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
There’s been a lot of suffering in the last year. Just about a year ago, “normal” life began to shut down as the pandemic loomed large. In that time, millions have died. Livelihoods have been destroyed. Familiar patterns have been disrupted.
St. Paul was speaking about suffering for the faith. Not all suffering is edifying. Sometimes suffering is just straight-up misery, and there’s been plenty of that in the pandemic time.
But I do wonder if we might look at our lives and at our church to see what we can learn from this time. Can this time of suffering produce endurance, character, and hope?
In the “before times” I think the church had too often lost sight of our fundamental mission to make disciples. It was easy to be places of comfort rather than challenge, of maintenance rather than mission, of good feelings rather than Gospel.
As we begin to look toward a post-pandemic time, I hope we take stock of our sufferings but also of our hopes. Can we use our newfound technology skills to reach more people? Can we appreciate those things we had taken for granted? Can we sharpen our focus so that we see ourselves, above all else, as communities of disciples who make disciples?
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